Posts Tagged ‘exercise’


Carissa Liebowitz (at right, in the purple shirt)

‘Running is a safe space… we can scrape the barrel of our souls and go back to our regular lives without repercussion.’

If left to our own devices with free time and adequate resources, what would we choose to do?

While in Nepal recently, en route to reach the starting line of the Everest Marathon, I found such happiness in trekking daily, falling asleep at 7:30 p.m., and no agenda other than to take in the beautiful scenery and move my body.

It helped, of course, to be led by someone else. To not have to give any thoughts about where I was going, how I was going to find food or shelter, or what I needed to do to prepare for the next day.

But if I shake away the potential complications, I am left with how I like living. Using my body for moderate work pretty much all day with periods of adequate rest, time for reflection, minimal internet connectivity, and at peace.

I think about the things that some people would find moderately uncomfortable and those are the things I enthusiastically embraced. Crawling into my sleeping bag with a layer of dust. Surprise meals prepared in a traditional way. Rest days with light hiking.

In much of the first world, we have evolved to live in a 72° environment with infrequent activity. Our biggest challenges are keeping our inboxes clear and deciding what’s for dinner.

I like the idea of hiking for a long period of time. As a sense of accomplishment, yes, but also, as a sense of being in nature for extended periods of time. And of course, the reality of not dealing with the day-to-day is ultimately appealing. No bills, no housework and no commuting.

I wonder about the lack of communication if I were solo. I came to truly enjoy the camaraderie of breaking bread or unpacking a life story during a shared experience.

Snippets of dark life moments came out and these are the kind of things that you trust to people that you share a close and physical experience with. I heard more recently that these are evolutionary behaviors — the strenuousness of the physical breaks down the filters of social norms.

When we sit in a comfortable space without struggle, our inclination is to hide these things away. Even in our close friendship circles or family, our darker secrets are not shared. Perhaps because of the fragility of the relationship?

But if there is nothing to lose, it becomes easy to unload the burdens on a stranger. Our relationship could be nothing at best and that wouldn’t change the state of affairs. But it could strengthen our bond and push us to outcomes we’ve only dreamed of.

Friendships forged over miles of running are built on the same foundation. The higher the level of suffering, the more it seems we are willing to open up and offer the true versions of ourselves.

I’ve found that I’m the most authentic version of myself in the midst of a long training run or deep into a tough race. The things I might caution myself from sharing with a non-running friend over coffee suddenly fall easily out of my mouth when my legs are tired and my heart rate is high.

While running, I might be more apt to open up about my struggles with my husband’s multiple sclerosis battle or share my very undecided thoughts on spirituality.

I’ll give you all the details about my eating disorder in high school and losing my job, 15 years into my career. Running is my safe space. There is an unspoken notion that we can scrape the barrel of our souls and go back to our regular lives without repercussion.

It’s not just me either. The skeletons (and treasures!) slip out of my running friends’ closets too. Many of them I know on a more personal level after just a few runs than some friends I’ve known half of their lifetimes.

As we dig a little deeper physically, we dig a little deeper psychologically and in the discomfort of our bodies, we somehow find our comfort zone.

https://halfmarathons.substack.com/p/carissa-liebowitz-on-how-running?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjozNzY4NzIsInBvc3RfaWQiOjE3MjE1NSwiXyI6InVnNEVTIiwiaWF0IjoxNTc0MDAwMDEyLCJleHAiOjE1NzQwMDM2MTIsImlzcyI6InB1Yi0xMzczIiwic3ViIjoicG9zdC1yZWFjdGlvbiJ9.K0w17guN-6eemVW90j3BDXEIef7AHDveH6OOzqgxsGw

By Jonathan Lambert

If you’re looking for motivation to take up running, perhaps this will help. A new study finds that people who run as little as once a week have a lower risk of early death compared with people who don’t run at all.

In fact, any amount of running was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of premature death. And researchers found no evidence that running more alters that number significantly, according to a new meta-analysis published November 4 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“This is good news for the many adults who find it hard to find time for exercise,” says Elaine Murtagh, an exercise physiologist at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland, who was not involved in the study. “Any amount of running is better than none.”

While this conclusion might seem obvious to runners, the science has been fairly mixed, says public health researcher Željko Pedišić of Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. “Some studies found a significant benefit of running, but others did not,” he says.

Also unclear was whether the duration or intensity of running mattered. Researchers who study the effects of running think about the activity in terms of doses, as though it were itself a medicine. Pedišić says that while it might make sense that more running would yield greater health benefits, some studies have sparked debate by suggesting that higher levels of running — more than 250 minutes a week — could actually negate any benefits in terms of mortality.

Pedišić and his colleagues tried to make sense of these conflicting findings by pooling and reanalyzing data from previous studies, an approach known as a meta-analysis. They settled on 14 previously published studies, which collectively asked 232,149 participants about their running habits and then tracked their health over a period of time from 5 ½ to 35 years.

Over the course of each study a total of 25,951 participants died, allowing the researchers to look for statistical associations between running and risk of death.

The researchers found that runners, even those who reported running as infrequently as once a month, had a 27 percent reduced risk of death from any cause compared with non-runners. Each study differed slightly in how they defined a runner, making it difficult to say exactly how little running is necessary for a benefit, though Pedišić says taking just a few strides a week is almost certainly not enough.

Still, the lower risk of early death was more or less the same across all running doses, from running no more than once a week for less than 50 minutes to running every day for a weekly total of 250 minutes. “All these doses of running are significantly associated with lower risk of death,” Pedišić says. “There was no significant difference between frequency, duration or pace,”

“Not finding a trend does not mean that the trend does not exist,” Pedišić cautions. A trend could be too small to be detected within the sample size. Studying the health effects of heavy running can be difficult because there aren’t many people who run that much, he says.

While more evidence is needed to determine if there is an upper limit to how much running is beneficial, this study fits with other research finding health benefits for any level of activity, says Angelique Brellenthin, a kinesiologist at Iowa State University in Ames who was not involved in the study, “Any amount of physical activity that you can fit into your schedule is good for you,” she says.

Running just once a week may help you outpace an early death

By Dennis Thompson

Middle-aged folks who worry about healthy aging would do well to keep an eye on their walking speed.

Turns out that the walking speed of 45-year-olds is a pretty solid marker of how their brains and bodies are aging, a new study suggests.

Slow walkers appear to be aging more rapidly, said senior researcher Terrie Moffitt, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. They’ve lost more brain volume in middle-age than folks with a quicker walking pace, and also perform worse on physical and mental tests, she said.

“For those people who were slow walkers for their age group, they already had many of the signs of failing health that are regularly tested in a geriatric clinic,” Moffitt said.

In the study, middle-aged people who walked slower than 3.6-feet per second ranked in the lowest fifth when it comes to walking speed, and those are the individuals already showing signs of rapid aging, said Dr. Stephanie Studenski, a geriatrician with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

“It takes many body systems to have you walk well,” Studenski said. “It takes a good heart, good lungs, good nervous system, good strength, good musculoskeletal system and a variety of other things. Gait speed summarizes the health of all of your body’s systems.”

Gait speed tests are a standard part of geriatric care, and are regularly given to people 65 and older, Moffitt said.

“The slower a person walks, that is a good predictor of impending mortality,” Moffitt said. “The slower they walk, the more likely they will pass away.”

Moffitt and her colleagues suspected that gait tests might be valuable given at an earlier age, figuring that walking speed could serve as an early indicator of how well middle-aged people are aging.

To test this notion, the researchers turned to a long-term study of nearly 1,000 people born in a single year in Dunedin, New Zealand. These people have been tested regularly since their birth in 1972-1973 regarding a wide variety of medical concerns.

This group of study participants recently turned 45, and as they did, the research team tested their walking speed by asking each to repeatedly amble down a 25-foot-long electronic pad, Moffitt said.

Each person walked down the pad at their normal rate, and then again as fast as they could. They also were asked to walk as fast as possible while reciting the alphabet backward, Moffitt said.

All of the participants then were subjected to a battery of aging tests normally used in geriatric clinics.

In addition, they underwent an MRI brain scan to test the volume of their brains, since a shrinking brain has been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The participants also were given a variety of mental and physical tests. The physical tests involved things like balancing on one foot, standing up out of a chair as fast as they could, or gripping a monitor as tightly as they could to test hand strength.

“All these things are very subtle,” Moffitt said. “They’re not anything that would knock you over with a feather. You have to test them in order to find them.”

The findings showed that people who were in the lowest fifth for walking speed had signs of premature and rapid aging.

Studenski said, “It’s the bottom 20% that’s by far in bigger trouble than the others.”

The slower walkers also looked older to a panel of eight screeners asked to guess each participant’s age from a facial photograph.

The findings were published online Oct. 11 in JAMA Network Open.

A gait test could be an easy and low-cost way for primary care doctors to test how well middle-aged patients are aging, said Studenski, who wrote an editorial accompanying the new study.

Doctors could place sensors at the beginning and end of a hallway, and test patients’ walking speed as they head down to the examination room, she added.

However, doctors would need to be taught how to interpret gait speed for middle-aged patients, the same way that geriatricians already are trained to interpret walking speed in seniors.

Middle-aged people with a slower gait could try to slow their aging by eating healthy, exercising, quitting smoking, and maintaining better control over risk factors like high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, Studenski and Moffitt suggested.

An even better use of walking speed could be as an early test of drugs and therapies meant to counter dementia and other diseases of aging, Moffitt said.

These therapies usually are difficult to assess because researchers have to wait years for people to grow old and display the hoped-for benefits, she noted.

“They need something cheap and effective they can do now to evaluate these treatments,” Moffitt said. “If they give it to people and it speeds up their walking, we’ve really got something there.”

SOURCES: Terrie Moffitt, Ph.D., professor, psychology and neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, N.C.; Stephanie Studenski, M.D., MPH, geriatrician, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Oct. 11, 2019, JAMA Network Open, online

https://consumer.healthday.com/senior-citizen-information-31/misc-aging-news-10/how-fast-you-walk-might-show-how-fast-you-re-aging-751167.html

by DAVID NIELD

We know that a range of factors influence weight, including those related to lifestyle and genetics, but researchers have now identified six specific exercises that seem to offer the best chance of keeping your weight down – even if your genes don’t want you to.

Based on an analysis of 18,424 Han Chinese adults in Taiwan, aged between 30 and 70 years old, the best ways of reducing body mass index (BMI) in individuals predisposed to obesity are: regular jogging, mountain climbing, walking, power walking, dancing (to an “international standard”), and lengthy yoga practices.

But interestingly, many popular exercise types weren’t shown to do much good for those who’s genetic risk score makes them more likely to be obese.

Specifically, exercises including cycling, stretching, swimming and legendary console game Dance Dance Revolution don’t appear to be able to counteract genetic bias (though are beneficial in many other ways).

“Our findings show that the genetic effects on obesity measures can be decreased to various extents by performing different kinds of exercise,” write the researchers in their paper published in PLOS Genetics.

“The benefits of regular physical exercise are more impactful in subjects who are more predisposed to obesity.”

Besides BMI, the team also looked at four other obesity measures for a more complete picture: body fat percentage (BFP), waist circumference (WC), hip circumference (HC), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR).

Regular jogging – 30 minutes, three times a week – turned out to be the most effective way of counteracting obesity genes across all of them.

The researchers also suggest, based on the information dug up in the Taiwan BioBank database, that the less effective forms of exercise typically don’t use up as much energy, which is why they don’t work quite so well.

The researchers specifically noted that activities in cold water, such as swimming, could make people hungrier and cause them to eat more.

The study was able to succeed in one of its main aims, which was to show that having a genetic disposition towards obesity doesn’t mean that obesity is inevitable – the right type of exercise, carried out regularly, can fight back against that built-in genetic coding.

“Obesity is caused by genetics, lifestyle factors, and the interplay between them,” epidemiologist Wan-Yu Lin, from the National Taiwan University, told Newsweek. “While hereditary materials are inborn, lifestyle factors can be determined by oneself.”

It’s worth noting that not every type of exercise was popular enough within the sample population to be included: activities like weight training, table tennis, badminton or basketball may or may not be helpful, too. There wasn’t enough data to assess.

But with obesity numbers rising sharply across the world – and 13 percent of the global population now thought to quality as being obese – it’s clear that measures need to be taken to reverse the trend.

Being obese affects our physiological health in the way it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and other issues; and there’s evidence that being seriously overweight can have a negative effect on our brains too.

Studies like this latest one can point towards ways of sticking at a healthy weight, even when the genetic cards are stacked against it. In some cases all it takes is a few minutes of exertion per day.

“Previous studies have found that performing regular physical exercise could blunt the genetic effects on BMI,” conclude the researchers.

“However, few studies have investigated BFP or measures of central obesity. These obesity measures are even more relevant to health than BMI.”

The research has been published in PLOS Genetics.

https://www.sciencealert.com/these-six-exercises-can-keep-weight-down-even-with-genetic-tendencies-for-obesity

by MARY JO DILONARDO

When you want to lose weight, there are two things you do: eat less and exercise more.

Just cutting calories should cause you to drop pounds. But exercise alone is rarely enough for weight loss. Life isn’t fair, after all.

Think of it this way: When going on a 30-minute brisk walk at about 4 miles per hours (that’s a 15-minute mile), a 155-pound person burns about 167 calories, according to Harvard Medical School. Want to celebrate your accomplishment? That exercise is quickly erased by a large scoop of vanilla ice cream or two small chocolate chip cookies.

If more serious exercise is your thing, 30 minutes of vigorous stationary bicycling burns 391 calories. But that gets wiped away with one slice of pepperoni pizza.

It doesn’t seem fair how all that effort can be nullified by a few bites of tasty food.

Is more exercise the answer?

It seems like simple math: If exercising for x minutes burns y calories, then just exercise longer and burn more calories. But research shows it’s not that easy.

Recently, New Scientist explained it with a story called, “Why doing more exercise won’t help you burn more calories.” Science writer Teal Burrell explored the idea of the so-called exercise paradox. People who dramatically increase their workout regimens often find that despite all the sweat and motion, they shed few pounds. Scientists have several theories why that might happen.

They eat more. You went for a grueling hike and are so proud of yourself, so you reward yourself later with a chocolate shake. People tend to overestimate the calories they burn when they exercise. In one study, people worked out on a treadmill and then were told to eat from a buffet the amount of food that equaled the calories they thought they burned. They guessed they had burned about 800 calories and ate about 550, when they had really burned just 200.

They move less. You went on that grueling hike in the morning, so you sprawled on the couch the rest of the day. Another theory is that people make up for their workouts by spending the rest of the time being sedentary. These are called “compensatory behaviors” when the moving and not moving balance each other out. But exercise physiologist Lara Dugas of Loyola University doesn’t buy this idea. “That doesn’t mean you lose that 500-calorie run because you’re sedentary for the rest of the day,” she tells New Scientist. “That doesn’t make sense.”

The body adapts. The theory that seems to make the most sense is that when you exercise more, your body adjusts by spending less energy on internal functions, from the immune system to digestion. Those systems that are working in the background, spending calories, just become more efficient when you exercise more, researchers think.

The role of exercise

Mathematician and obesity researcher Kevin Hall explained to Vox why adding more exercise probably won’t lead to much weight loss. Hall used the National Institutes of Health’s Body Weight Planner to calculate that if a 200-pound man added 60 minutes of medium-intensity running four days per week for a month while keeping his calorie intake the same, he’d lose five pounds. “If this person decided to increase food intake or relax more to recover from the added exercise, then even less weight would be lost,” Hall added.

So if someone is trying to lose a lot of weight, it would take a lot of time and effort to try to lose pounds based on exercise alone.

But of course, that doesn’t mean you should cancel your gym membership and toss your sneakers into the back of your closet. Exercise is still a key part of the one-two punch to weight loss. You just have to combine it with calorie control.

Nutritionists will say that weight loss is about 80% diet and 20% exercise. So yes, watch the brownies and the snacks if you’re trying to lose the love handles, but keep moving. It’s an eat-move combination that does require smart eating and regular movement to be healthy.

https://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/why-exercise-doesnt-matter-all-much-weight-loss?utm_source=Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=10b270682b-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_FRI0802_2019&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fcbff2e256-10b270682b-40844241

By Ben Tinker

There’s no shortage of things people swore to leave behind in 2018: bad jobs, bad relationships, bad habits. But chances are, you’re beginning 2019 with something you didn’t intend: a few extra pounds.

Every January, one of the top New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. And if you’re looking to be successful, there’s something you should know: Diet is far more important than exercise — by a long shot.

“It couldn’t be more true,” nutritionist and CNN contributor Lisa Drayer said. “Basically, what I always tell people is, what you omit from your diet is so much more important than how much you exercise.”

Think of it like this: All of your “calories in” come from the food you eat and the beverages you drink, but only a portion of your “calories out” are lost through exercise.

According to Alexxai Kravitz, an investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases — part of the National Institutes of Health, “it’s generally accepted that there are three main components to energy expenditure”:

(1) Basal metabolic rate, the amount of energy it takes just to keep your body running (blood pumping, lungs breathing, brain functioning)

(2) Breaking down food, scientifically referred to as “diet-induced thermogenesis,” “specific dynamic action” or the “thermic effect of food”

(3) Physical activity

For most people, basal metabolic rate accounts for 60% to 80% of total energy expenditure, Kravitz said. He cited a study that defines this as “the minimal rate of energy expenditure compatible with life.” As you get older, your rate goes down, but increasing your muscle mass makes it go up.

About 10% of your calories are burned digesting the food you eat, which means roughly 10% to 30% are lost through physical activity.

“An important distinction here is that this number includes all physical activity: walking around, typing, fidgeting and formal exercise,” Kravitz said. “So if the total energy expenditure from physical activity is 10% to 30%, exercise is a subset of that number.

“The average person — professional athletes excluded — burns 5% to 15% of their daily calories through exercise,” he said. “It’s not nothing, but it’s not nearly equal to food intake, which accounts for 100% of the energy intake of the body.”

What’s more, as anyone who’s worked out a day in their life can tell you, exercising ramps up appetite — and that can sabotage even the best of intentions.

According to calculations by Harvard Medical School, a 185-pound person burns 200 calories in 30 minutes of walking at 4 miles per hour (a pace of 15 minutes per mile). You could easily undo all that hard work by eating four chocolate chip cookies, 1½ scoops of ice cream or less than two glasses of wine.

Even a vigorous cycling class, which can burn more than 700 calories, can be completely canceled out with just a few mixed drinks or a piece of cake.

“It’s so disproportionate — the amount of time that you would need to [exercise] to burn off those few bites of food,” Drayer said.

The sentiment here is that you’ve “earned” what you eat after working out, when instead — if your goal is to lose weight — you’d be better off not working out and simply eating less.

Of course, not all calories are created equal, but for simplicity’s sake, 3,500 calories equal 1 pound of fat. So to lose 1 pound a week, you should aim to cut 500 calories every day. If you drink soda, cutting that out of your diet is one of the easiest ways to get there.

“The other thing is that exercise can increase your appetite, especially with prolonged endurance exercise or with weight lifting,” Drayer said. “It’s another reason why I tell people who want to lose weight to really just focus on diet first.”

It is cliché — but also true — that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to weight loss. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually (about 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off.”

“All this is not to say that exercise doesn’t have its place,” Drayer said. “It’s certainly important for building strength and muscle mass and flexibility. It can help to manage diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. It can improve your mood. It can help fight depression. But although exercise can help with weight loss, diet is a much more important lifestyle factor.”

As the saying goes: Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/04/health/diet-exercise-weight-loss/index.html

By Ana Sandoiu

New research finds that a 6-month regimen of aerobic exercise can reverse symptoms of mild cognitive impairment in older adults.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is characterized by a mild loss of cognitive abilities, such as memory and reasoning skills.

A person with MCI may find it hard to remember things, make decisions, or focus on tasks.

While the loss of cognitive abilities is not serious enough to interfere with daily activities, MCI raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 15–20 percent of adults aged 65 and over in the United States have MCI.

New research suggests that there might be a way to reverse these age-related cognitive problems. James A. Blumenthal, Ph.D. — of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC — and colleagues examined the effects of regimented exercise in 160 people aged 65 on average.

They published their findings in the journal Neurology.